Thursday 14 September 2017

The First London Confession of Faith

We seem indebted to US publishers for so many valuable reprints these days. Particular Baptist Press have brought out a quality edition of a much neglected early Baptist Confession. Lumpkin thought it the Confession that had the greatest 'formative ... influence on Baptist life.' It was first issued in 1644. Then, when some degree of toleration was experienced by nonconformists, it was revised and reprinted in 1646, together with an Appendix by Benjamin Cox to clarify some points of doctrine which had been questioned by opponents. Seven Baptist churches in London came together to produce it, probably to distance themselves from continental Anabaptists and to assure the authorities of their peacefulness and morality. I'm not sure that Michael Haykin's view expressed in the historical introduction that it was written to 'demonstrate once and for all their fundamental solidarity with the international Calvinist community' is quite true. The later Baptist Confession of 1689 smacks more of that: it falls much more into line with the Westminster Confession. But in 1644 conditions were more precarious for Baptists. The Civil War was on, but neither side could be looked to for granting liberty of conscience. There were many amongst the Parliamentarians who were as intolerant of them as the King was. So this Confession is a brave, unflinching declaration of faith, having the feel of something forged in the fires of persecution - a kind of 'here I stand, I can do no other' type of Confession. It is notable for its conciseness, its Christ-centredness, and its grasp of the New Testament doctrine of the Church and the life of the believer.
A facsimile of the original title page is included in this edition. It looks back to the past with affection, but is also intended to be of practical use today, and modern formatting facilitates that.
'The First London Confession of Faith 1646 Edition' is published by Particular Baptist Press in paperback. Our price is just £3.50.

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